That’s Amore: Wind, Rain, and Golf Carts

Soon it was time for our couple portraits. The sky was getting dark with clouds and it looked like there would be rain at any moment. My photographer quickly jumped into action and started directing us toward different locations to pose.

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It started raining a few minutes into the shoot, but fortunately it was a typical south Florida rain shower and it stopped after about 15 minutes and we took a few more photos.

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Once we finished we headed over to the venue. It was time for us to have our ceremony!

We pulled up to the venue in our limo. I took a peek out of the limo’s window and was greeted with one of my mother’s many surprises: two golf carts that were carting our guests from the entrance of the venue to the location where our wedding ceremony would take place. If we hadn’t had the golf carts our guests would have had to walk on the grass for a bit (probably about 15 seconds or so) and my mother had mentioned that she wanted to do something about it. I was happy to see she had come up with a clever solution. I’m sure many of our guests in heels appreciated the golf carts.

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Our DOC handed me my bouquet and asked me to wait in the limo until the last of the guests were shuttled off.  While I hid in the limo my photographer took a few more photos of my family.

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My brothers are such a bunch of goof balls.

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My father and Mr. G.

The last of our guests were soon shuttled off and our DOC directed everyone except me and my father to head to the ceremony site in the golf carts. My father would drive me to the ceremony in a smaller golf cart and walk me down the aisle once it was time. I started to get butterflies in my stomach. I’d thought that I wouldn’t get nervous or very excited at the ceremony. Mr. G and I were already legally married and this was wedding number two, but I started to get incredibly excited. I was going to walk down the aisle!

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Getting in the golf cart to head down the aisle!

Were you or are you nervous about walking down the aisle? Golf course brides/outdoor brides, how do you plan on having your guests get to the ceremony?

All photography by Courtney Ortiz.

recap icon

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

Our guests ate and drank.

There were tears. 

We had a receiving line.

We had an after-party.

We tried to have a zero wedding. 

We head to America!

We receive some great OOT bags.

We have our rehearsal dinner. 

We get ready for the wedding.

We pose for a few photos.

That’s Amore: What Do I Do With My Arms?

We headed to the park and once I got out of the limo my worries about the wind were confirmed. It wasn’t only at the beach, all of the city was extremely windy. Prepare to see a lot of wind blown pictures.

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My brothers laughing as the wind whipped my veil all over the place.

We decided to take photos at the Arts Park at Young Circle, the same place where we took our engagement photos, because their are so many attractions there- fountains, beautiful trees, and even a bamboo forest.

We decided to start with family photos of me and my siblings. I wanted some fun, happy shots of us and our photographer delivered.

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We then took family photos of my side of the family.

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My favorite family photo. Olive is so cute and funny in this photo! No one had any idea she was doing that except the photographer.

We then had photos of Mr. G and his side of the family.

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And then I took a few photos with everyone.

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You may have noticed that I basically have one pose in these photos- arm at the hip. I read somewhere that the best way to look thin in photos is to put your arm on your hip so your arms don’t look chubby. I think I struck this pose a bit too much though. I wish I’d practiced a few more poses in the mirror or had thought of having my bouquet sent to me before the photos. (I didn’t get my bouquet until I arrived at the ceremony venue).

Are you worried about how to pose for your photos? Does anyone have any good tips?

All photography by Courtney Ortiz.

recap icon

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

Our guests ate and drank.

There were tears. 

We had a receiving line.

We had an after-party.

We tried to have a zero wedding. 

We head to America!

We receive some great OOT bags.

We have our rehearsal dinner. 

We get ready for the wedding.

That’s Amore: Getting Ready For The Big Day

I woke up on the morning of our wedding and immediately opened the window to see if the rain from last night had stopped. It had and there was so giant rainbow outside to greet me! Our wedding  ceremony wasn’t until 4.30 that day so Mr. G and I had a leisurely breakfast on the beach. On our walk to breakfast I couldn’t help but notice how incredibly windy it was and it got even windier on our way back to the condo. “I hope it’s only this windy on the beach” I told Mr. G on our walk back. “At least it isn’t raining.” Mr. G told me. I couldn’t have agreed more. On my wedding day, give me wind over rain.

At about noon, my makeup artist came over and started my makeup. My mom, my sister, and my niece, Olive, also came over to get ready and have their hair and makeup done.

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Getting my makeup done by my wonderful makeup artist Aimee.  Personal Photo

I may have mentioned this before, but I wouldn’t be having any bridesmaids or any type of bridal party.  Mr. G nor I have many close friends who live in the States and I also didn’t want to have the added stress of getting a bridal party organized from overseas. My two moms and my sister were basically my bridesmaids throughout the whole wedding planning process. They helped me with invitations, coordinating the wedding, making OOT bags, etc. They were amazing.

My photographer came soon after and started taking some photos as we got ready.

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My sister and I drinking champagne because drinking champagne is an essential step when getting ready on your wedding day.

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Getting my hair done. I just asked for a few simple curls.

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My mother and my niece, Olive, who was beyond excited to be a flower girl.

My photographer also took a few solo portraits while my mother and sister got their hair and makeup done.

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Soon it was time for me to get into my dress. By then we were running a little bit late so we started to hurry. Everyone had to get dressed all at once!

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This is by far my favorite getting ready shot. I love how our dresses are red, white, and blue- the colors of the American flag.

While we were getting dressed, Mr. G took a few photos on the veranda with our photographer.

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Once everyone was ready we hopped into the limo and took a few fun limo photos. We then headed to take our family photos at the Arts Park at Young Circle.

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Say what?! Are we getting married?! Personal Photo

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We just had to rock a few peace signs!

A word of advice to brides out there: schedule a lot of time for hair and makeup– way more than you think is necessary. I scheduled what I thought to be more than enough time for hair and makeup (two hours for three people) and we still ran about 30 minutes late which was awful because Mr. G’s family had to wait in the park until we got there.

How long are you planning on spending on hair and make up? Already married brides, how long did you spend on hair and makeup? Did you need more time?

Unless noted, all photography by Courtney Ortiz.

recap icon

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

Our guests ate and drank.

There were tears. 

We had a receiving line.

We had an after-party.

We tried to have a zero wedding. 

We head to America!

We receive some great OOT bags.

We have our rehearsal dinner. 

That’s Amore: Tiger vs. Lamb

I should have known that Friday, the day of our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, was going to be a less than perfect day when I told my hair stylist that I needed to leave the hair salon at 4pm- no exceptions!- and left there at 530pm.  Granted, it was totally worth getting my hair relaxed and having hair extensions sewn in, but I totally missed the little get -together my mother had planned for me and Mr. G’s family at her home before the rehearsal.

I raced home to get dressed for the rehearsal and put on my Yukata (a cotton kimono). Mr G and I had decided to bring some Japanese flair to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and he wore a cotton men’s kimono as well. Mr G and I headed straight to the rehearsal where our DOC and venue coordinator were setting up the reception area. I was glad that they were setting up early because we were able to get a sneak peek of the reception space.

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Marveling at the room decor.

Our families arrived soon after and we began our rehearsal. We initially planned on having the rehearsal outdoors at the ceremony location but it had started raining so we had to hold it inside.

Okay, let me get real with you for a second. Our DOC is an incredibly polite and professional woman whom I enjoyed working with very much– except on the day of the rehearsal. I have a very loud, rowdy, and big family who were way too busy cracking jokes and talking to pay attention to our DOC. On that night I wish I had a tiger of a DOC who could have taken charge of everyone and handled the situation immediately rather than my sweet, soft spoken lamb of DOC.

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We finally get to rehearse after a lot of standing around and waiting.

After about an hour, our rehearsal finished (I think we only actually rehearsed for about 5 minutes) and we headed to the rehearsal dinner venue.  There were a few mishaps at the rehearsal dinner- we got the wrongs menus at first, there was confusion as to who would be sitting where, and our food took about an hour to come out. During the night I wanted to be more aggressive and get our rehearsal dinner situated, but I was so afraid of coming off as a bridezilla that I just grinned and was quiet about everything.  Towards the end of the night everything worked out well and we were able to enjoy our food and drinks.

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My mom had kindly made our menus with a monogram downloaded from Wedding Chicks. It was a very nice touch.

Mr. G and I planned on making a speech at the rehearsal dinner, but we had outdoor seating and it was way too loud to make a speech so we just went around and told everyone thank you for coming and handed out gifts to thank my family for helping coordinate the wedding while I was overseas. My sister and mother got Coach handbags (we live near a Japanese Coach outlet store) and my brothers and father got Asian-inspired T-shirts.

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My brother seemed to love his shirt!

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We got my youngest brother an “Engrish” shirt. It says “Be sure to drink liqueur in front of.” And yes, my brother is wearing a My Little Pony t-shirt.

After the rehearsal dinner was finished Mr. G and I made our way back to the condo, ate some key lime pie in bed, and listened to the sound of rain which I hoped would stop by morning.

My rehearsal dinner and rehearsal were far from perfect. I felt rushed due to being off schedule and I felt like I was never in control of the situation. What’s worse was that I was afraid of taking control of the situation and subsequently being called a bridezilla.  Looking back, I wish I could have reacted in either two ways: 1) Been more assertive throughout the day and just ignored everyone who would have thought  I was a bridezilla or 2) Just had a laid-back attitude and just let whatever happens happen. Instead I just stressed my self out. Bad decision.

Are you afraid of being more assertive because people may think you’re a bridezilla?  What type of DOC do you prefer – a tiger or a lamb?

recap icon

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

Our guests ate and drank.

There were tears. 

We had a receiving line.

We had an after-party.

We tried to have a zero wedding. 

We head to America!

We receive some great OOT bags.

That’s Amore: It’s in the Bag

During our American stay, Mr. G and I stayed at a condo that a friend of the family kindly offered to us. It had an amazing view and my mother and her friends stocked the house with wine, champagne, fruit, and tons of snacks.

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View from our condo. Photography by Courtney Ortiz

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Chex Mix! Pita chips! I was so excited to see so many American snacks. Personal photo

My sister, Mimi, was also kind enough to make OOT (out of town) bags for all of our OOT guests and put one in our condo as well!

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Our OOT bags had flip-flops for me and Mr. G, bottled water, and Floridian snacks such as Key Lime Pie cake and plantain chips.

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I’d never received an OOT bag before and I loved having one! The thing that I appreciated most in the OOT bags were definitely the  flips- flops which were perfect for walking on the beach.  Quite a few guests mentioned how much they liked the flip-flops and a few people told me they had been planning on buying a pair but didn’t need to since they were already in the bag.  The snacks were also very much appreciated and perfect after a night of drinking at the rehearsal dinner and wedding. I also liked that everything came in a canvas bag that could be reused.

Are you making OOT bags? What are you planning on putting in them? For those who have received OOT bags, what did you appreciate? What didn’t you use?

recap icon

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

Our guests ate and drank.

There were tears. 

We had a receiving line.

We had an after-party.

We tried to have a zero wedding. 

We head to America!

That’s Amore: Coming to America

Mr. G and I had three weeks between our  Japanese wedding and American wedding. During that time we weren’t too busy. We packed for the wedding and honeymoon and watched a ton of travel shows about Italy to prepare for our honeymoon.

We also did something very nerve-wracking: We mailed my wedding dress to America.

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Mr. G mailing my wedding dress at the post office.

I initially thought that I would put my wedding dress in my suitcase since its not that big and doesn’t wrinkle much. I mentioned this to my friend Gia and she literally shouted “NO!” She mentioned my track record of losing my luggage (at least one piece of my luggage gets lost when I fly internationally). “What if you lose your luggage and you don’t get it back in time for the wedding?! What if your luggage catches on fire like mine?!” (Gia’s luggage caught on fire during an international flight.) She suggested I take my wedding dress as carry-on luggage and have the flight attendant hang it up for me, but I shot that down.  Some of my flight would be on a Japanese airline and they are notoriously strict about carry -on luggage and might not let me take the dress on the plane (most brides in Japan rent wedding dresses so flying with a wedding dress is unheard of in Japan).  In the end I decided to mail my dress through express mail. Luckily, it got there safe and sound and in plenty of time.

Mr. G and I packed our bags and headed for the wedding on a Wednesday. We had a pretty crazy flight schedule ahead of us for the next two weeks. We would travel: Tokyo to Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Lauderdale to Tokyo, Tokyo to Rome, and then Rome to Tokyo, basically two round trip tickets.  We initially wanted to do the simpler route of  Tokyo to Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Lauderdale to Rome, and then Rome to Tokyo but the multi-city ticket was about $2000 dollars more so we ended up just doing two round trips instead.

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Enjoying a beer before we head off to Tokyo on the bullet train. Still doing peace signs!

Our American wedding trip was four days.  We landed in Florida on Thursday and had our rehearsal dinner on Friday. The wedding was on Saturday, we rested on Sunday, and then flew off for our honeymoon on Monday.

I’m going to be honest with you hive, my American wedding all went by in a blur. I was jet lagged (the time difference between Florida and Japan at the time was 13 hours) and a lot of the time I had no idea what was going on. I had gone to America in March (8 months before the wedding) and met with my Day-of-Coordinator to go over details and the schedule. I returned to Japan feeling very confident and secure about all of the wedding plans and then my mother changed most of the wedding during the next 8 months. Most of the changes were surprises for Mr. G and I and things to make our wedding bigger and better. Nevertheless, I spent a lot of the day asking “Wait, what’s happening?” and “Weren’t we supposed to be doing this at this time?”  This was pretty stressful for me as I can be a control freak sometimes. Looking back, I wish I could of had a more laid back attitude during the day and just enjoyed myself rather than worry why everyone wasn’t following the schedule I had planned. Even with all my needless stressing, the American wedding was amazing and I had a wonderful time. I can ‘t wait to share with you the Gondola American Wedding!

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One of our couple portraits from the American wedding. Photography by Courtney Ortiz

Destination wedding brides, how are you planning on transporting your wedding dress?

recap icon

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

Our guests ate and drank.

There were tears. 

We had a receiving line.

We had an after-party.

We tried to have a zero wedding. 

Real Bee Budgets: Gondola Edition

It’s time for the Gondola wedding budget post.  Most of this post is going to be ridiculously easy because Japanese weddings are one-stop, all -inclusive events.

Date:10/19/2013
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Number of Guests: 71
Budget: $15,000- $20,000

Reception Costs : $10,950

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Our venue, like many in Japan, has a set price per guest which covers all of the reception costs: food, drink, wedding cake, food tastings, the MC fee, linens, AV equipment, flowers for the table, countless meetings with the wedding planner,  and more.  The price per each guest (plus bride and groom) was $150. So $150 x 73= $10,950

Photography :$525

Ridiculously cheap, I know,  but this only covered 3 and a half hours of photography. In my personal opinion, Japanese wedding photography is still a few years behind American wedding photography.  Nevertheless, I believe that I got above and beyond what I paid for. Our photographer had a great personality and he got some amazing shots.

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Our photographer was able to get great candid shots like this.

Bouquet: $200 

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The bouquet was a separate cost from the other floral arrangements that were included in the reception fee. I thought it was a bit small for $200 dollars, but I liked it.

Miscellaneous:$150

This includes the Jenga set, the tripod, the photo booth props, and crepe paper for the photo booth, and a few wooden boxes and vases.

Paper Goods:$198

We could have gotten our paper goods from the venue but they would have been about $5 a piece so I DIYed everything and had it printed on Vistaprint with lots of coupons.

Invitations:$80

Thank You Cards: $50

STDs: $25

Save-the-Template from Etsy Shop: Paper Flowers Designs

Template purchased from Etsy.com

Bathroom Door Posters: $10

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Men’s Bathroom Door Sign. Personal Photo

Place Cards and Escort Cards $8 ( I just bought business cards from an office supply store and printed them at home.)

Pamphlets: $25

Dress and Veil: $600

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Trying on my wedding dress. Personal Photo

Necklace: $55

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 Image via Etsy.com

Mr. G’s Suit: $450

We bought it a Men’s Wearhouse on a trip to the states.

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Hairpiece: $50

Shoes: $50

Make-up & Hair: $100

Now comes the hard part: the gifts. Hive, I mentioned in my gift- giving post that there are lots of gifts to give at a Japanese weddings.  Here is our gift breakdown.

Favors: $1950

Gift catalogs that were $30 each (30 x 65=1950)

Special Favors for Close Family Members: $1800

Gift catalogs that were $300 each (300 x 6 =$1800)

Petite Gift$71

This gift is expected to be at the table and about a dollar in cost. It’s usually cookies or crackers, but we did scratch- off lottery cards. (1x 71= $71)

Favors for the Favors: $355

Yes, your $30 dollar wedding favor has to have a favor attached to it. It’s expected to be something cheap. We did a gift certificates to Starbucks so our guests could grab a cup of coffee while they waited for the after party. (5 x 71= $355)

Receiving Line Gift: $71 (This is the gift you hand to everyone at the receiving line. We did personalized lip balm (1 x 71= $71)

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Our lip balm gift bag. Personal Photo

After Party Receiving Line Gifts: $130

This was the gift we gave at the after party receiving line. We did bags of American candy. (2 x 65= $130)

After Party: $0

All expenses of the after party besides the receiving line gifts were covered by the cover charge all of the guests paid so our after party cost us $0.

Japanese Wedding Grand Total: $17,705

So did we have a zero wedding? Well, we received about $12,000 in wedding gift money so the difference was $5,705 which means we didn’t have a zero wedding. This is common for most couples in Japan as buying gifts will eat up most of your budget very quickly. Our gift budget was actually a quarter of our entire grand total! I know there aren’t a ton of people here at the hive who are getting married in Japan, but I hope this gave you a nice peek into Japanese culture.

If there is any budget advice I could give to brides it would be to get on a mailing list for Vistaprint. They send so many coupons it’s ridiculous and I saved so much money having my printing done by them!

*Unless noted, all photos by Teppei Kawakami